SUN CITY, Ariz. (AP) — U.S. Senate candidate Martha McSally campaigned with Donald Trump Jr. in a Republican stronghold in metro Phoenix. Her Democratic opponent, Kyrsten Sinema, rallied supporters at a phone bank in Phoenix.
Thursday’s events in the waning days of the campaign for the Senate seat being vacated by Republican Sen. Jeff Flake mirror their diverging tactics throughout the tight race.
Sinema has focused on meeting voters, holding small events and rallying supporters in a bid to win the independent centrist vote in red state Arizona. She has avoided bringing in top-name Democrats such as former President Barack Obama and former Vice President Joe Biden who have stumped for candidates in other states.
It’s in stark contrast to McSally’s use of President Donald Trump and other top GOP figures to appeal to the conservative Republican base.
A 15-minute speech by Trump’s oldest son in the retirement community of Sun City focused mostly on touting his father’s leadership and complaints that news organizations don’t treat conservatives fairly. He also slammed the media for what he said was their soft-gloves treatment of Sinema’s record.
“They (news organizations) are literally trying to make a socialist into a capitalist,” Trump said before a crowd of about 300 at a rally aimed at improving GOP voter turnout next week.
Sinema has been focused for the entire election on centrist voters, independents and Republican women. She hasn’t brought in big-name Democrats like Obama, a polarizing figure who could turn off some in the middle. Instead, she zeroes in on health care, education and veterans issues.
“I believe a good candidate spends her time talking to voters, listening to them, focusing on their needs,” she said in an interview Thursday. “We knocked on 160,000 doors over the weekend. That’s campaign work, that’s actually listening to people about what they care about and working hard to earn their individual support.”
McSally is a two-term congresswoman who represents a southern Arizona swing district and moved to the right this year as she faced a three-way Republican primary. McSally has criticized the media for not holding Sinema accountable for comments she made years ago, before she was in Congress.
“Sinema is Chuck Schumer’s No. 1 recruit,” McSally said of the Senate’s top Democrat, drawing laughter from the audience.
Sinema is a three-term congresswoman who represents a district that covers parts of Phoenix and suburban Tempe. She’s built a reputation as one of the most moderate members of the Democratic caucus, frequently voting for legislation backed by Republicans.
On Thursday, she backed the president’s push to send troops to the U.S.-Mexico border, even though her position might hurt her among liberal Democrats.
“Our Customs and Border Patrol agents, when they need help it’s our country’s duty to send them help,” she said. “And I’ve supported that for years, and I want to make sure we’re doing everything we can to keep our border secure. It hasn’t changed.”
McSally has embraced appearing in public with top leaders in her party. She was in Yuma, near the border, with Vice President Mike Pence last week and with Trump at a rally in the Phoenix suburb of Mesa about two weeks ago.
McSally spoke approvingly of the president’s record on the economic growth and noted that she has worked with him on improving border security.
Follow Jacques Billeaud at www.twitter.com/jacquesbilleaud .
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